Home » Foreign Forces » China » Panel: Chinese Navy, Maritime Militia Has Given Beijing De Facto Control of the South China Sea


Panel: Chinese Navy, Maritime Militia Has Given Beijing De Facto Control of the South China Sea

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning underway. PLAN Photo

Through its navy, coast guard, a loose collection of armed fishing vessels, and a network of military bases built on artificial islands, Beijing has gained de facto control of the South China Sea, a panel of Indo-Pacific security experts said Friday.

And the implications of that control — militarily, economically, diplomatically — are far-reaching for the United States and its partners and allies in the region.

“Every vessel [sent on a freedom of navigation transit] is shadowed” by a Chinese vessel, showing Beijing’s ability to respond quickly events in areas it considers its own, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson said during an American Enterprise Institute forum.

Gregson added that U.S. freedom of navigation operations do little to protect American maritime rights, or the right of allies like the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.

The challenge over control in waters claimed by many other nations in addition to China has to be managed. Otherwise, U.S. allies will be reluctantly pushed to work with China because there is no steady American presence across the board in this key part of the globe.

To see how much has changed recently, all the panelists said look to what leaders are saying now about China’s aspirations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has set forth a public goal of complete recovery of all lost territory.” In addition to the South China Sea’s reefs, rocks and shoals, Roger Cliff, of CNA, said Xi’s declaration also means, “I’m looking at you Taiwan.”

Cliff said the Chinese armed forces are expanding to include large-deck carriers, destroyers the size of U.S. Aegis guided-missile cruisers, more submarines, a strategic bomber and airlift force. Research into hypersonic and laser weapons was viewed in China as a complementary element in a strategy to project “political influence in regional and world affairs” beyond its membership on the U.N. Security Council.

Chinese president Xi Jinping at a meeting in Moscow. Kremlin Photo

Xi has stressed the importance of a campaign to exert “cultural influence outside Asia,” as it did into the mid-19th century and Japan does now. At the same time, it is flashing its economic strength through the Asian Pacific Investment Bank, which has attracted traditional American allies like Thailand and the Philippines, and its “One Belt/One Road” initiatives in building and controlling infrastructure from highways to dams to ports in programs stretching from Asia into Africa, Europe and the Caribbean.

Gregson termed the decision to pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “a very damaging blow” as it opened ways for China to fill a trade and investment gap with the bank and infrastructure initiatives. He added the imposition of tariffs on allies most recently over steel and aluminum as creating more rifts in what should be stable relationships with nations who have shared goals.

The way the Chinese see it, only one nation could block them from reaching those goals, and that is the United States, he said.

“The United States was going to have to work harder and smarter” to compete with China, Nathan Freier, of the Army War College, said. He called for more concrete action than “its two half-hearted rebalances” toward the Pacific under the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

This means a shift in U.S. thinking and strategy to recognize, that with China, America will be in a state of “persistent competition for advantage.”

Thomas Donnelly, of the American Enterprise Institute, said, the United States is “missing an opportunity to impose cost on China,” particularly for its territorial assertiveness. “It is a global competition [with its] principal theater East Asia maritime.” He added current U.S. strategy does not address that point well enough.

The planned June 12 summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un later this month or in the future has created a new dynamic in relations among American allies in the Pacific and with China.

During the panel discussion, he mentioned that China also has viewed the Korean Peninsula “as being part of the first island chain” where it can and does exert its greatest influence, Donnelly said.

Gregson said that initially the United States defense perimeter in the Pacific after World War II did not take in Korea. The result of that miscalculation was the invasion of South Korea by Kim’s grandfather and later Chinese intervention in the war.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) is underway in the Philippine Sea on March 29, 2018. US Navy Photo

For Trump, Freier said the president needed to be very careful in discussing American troop levels in Korea and joint exercises during the negotiations, regarding them as more than bargaining chips. Likewise, the president also needed to realize that reaching an accord with Kim on intercontinental ballistic missiles threatening the United States does not lessen Pyongyang’s ability to strike Japan with shorter-range missiles — a continuing security concern in Tokyo.

“We are in grave danger of a fraying relationship” with important allies,” he said. The time is now for the United States “to make a choice” and “push our chips to the center of the table” in containing China and maintaining a stable Indo-Pacific, Freier said.

The panelists said dropping China from the invited nations to the Rim of the Pacific exercises was a step in the right direction but not a be-all and end-all in ending China’s bullying of its neighbors in a host of ways.

Donnelly added, “We’re not a status quo power,” and one of the reasons East Asia is so economically prosperous now and militarily quiet is “we infused our political values into [these] societies,” citing the democracies in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. “They are very different societies than before we began interacting with them day-by-day,” he said.

 

  • Ed L

    Forward deploy SAG’s out of Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia?

    • muzzleloader

      China has defacto control of the SCS? For the chicoms to do that means they have either nuetralized the naval and air forces of America/Japan/Australia/U.K., or else intimidated the same forces from even entering the SCS.
      The Chinese have done neither.
      That the chicoms have enormous assets in the region is undeniable, but control of the SCS? No.

      • tteng

        It is an accurate in situ realpolitik description in scs. ‘Naval and air forces of America/Japan/Australia/U.K’ are not much of use in peace time, and realistically there is no war on the horizon.

        • Ed L

          ABDA will not work again either. But the LCS can be used as an early warning trip wire.

        • Duane

          Spoken like a PRC patriot.

          • tteng

            ” Gregson added that U.S. freedom of navigation operations do little to protect American maritime rights, or the right of allies like the Philippines, Vietnam and Brunei.”

            I’m restating in essence what he said, and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t called Gen. Gregson a commie.

          • Duane

            He is wrong.

            You are the other.

      • USNVO

        Agreed,

        Reading the article I was reminded of a line from The Princess Bride.

        “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means”

        • Duane

          Yup … the intent of such statements is to convince the world that the PRC already has control of SCS without firing a shot to take control. It is psy ops, nothing more. If the enemy is convinced he has already lost, that is the cheapest of victories. It worked for Hitler right up through August 1939. But then being convinced of his own invincibility he went a step too far on September 1.

          • USNVO

            Well, if it was the PRC making that claim then you are correct. However, it is an American think tank. So in this case, it is a poor use of terminology that has a very specific meaning to the Navy. That in itself is not wrong, just confusing. From context at the conference, there would be no confusion. But to then use the phrase without said context just makes the statement look ridiculous. A better phrase, and more accurate to a Navy/Military audience, would be to use “de facto sovereignity” as opposed to “de facto control” since the PRC has virtually zero chance to “control” the SCS in a military sense.

          • Duane

            Think tanks are mostly useless. By parroting official PRC propaganda they are much worse than useless.

      • Duane

        PRC assets are not enormous. A fixed base on a tiny island in the middle of nowhere, built on loose fill barely above sea level and no mountains in which to hide hardened bunkers is otherwise known as a “fixed, soft target”. We’re not talking about Iwo Jima here. It will be wiped out in the first hour of war.

        The PLAN is not insignificant, but it is no match for the 7th fleet plus Japan, ROK, ROC, and Australian naval forces. Not to mention NATO naval forces which today are 50% larger than PLAN not including USN forces.

        PRC has never won a significant naval battle, let alone a naval war, since the Japanese whupped them back in 1,200.

        • muzzleloader

          I was not merely referring to the assets based on the Spratlys, I meant the totality of Chinese forces, air, naval, and missile, at thier disposal.

  • Zorcon, Fidei Defensor

    Didn’t Japan try this crap?

    • Ed L

      ABDA just slow them up. With the lost of half of ABDA naval forces

  • Not counting China’s fake, dredged and now militarized reefs, a few dozen islands in the SCS have either civilian populations or sparse military outposts, mostly Vietnamese and Filipino. In time Beijing may attempt to blockade any resupply and muscle them out, then muscle out allied navies from the broader sea lanes. The only solution is to ramp up multinational unity to keep the “international” in international waters.

    I propose creating a tropical ‘West Berlin’ with a small multinational force (fewer than 100 troops and diplomats) drawn from multiple SCS claimants, backed by major allies (U.S., Japan, Australia, India) and others, all emplaced on a strategic island. Ideally this would be one of the Spratley Islands due to their central location and existing infrastructure. The Spratley’s also have the most interested claimants – five nations – each of which may insist on participating to maintain their claims and to welcome major allies. Call it “Peace Island.”

    Diplomatically, Peace Island would bolster the free and international status of the SCS. Militarily, a unified presence would serve as a ‘red line’ that would deter China from controlling the waterway. And if China can’t stomach invading Peace Island (ergo 100% of the SCS), then the CCP would likely not bother taking other neighboring occupied islands either.

    Peace Island should pass most of the legal tests: naturally above sea level, a long-term population, multiple claimants and within multiple national economic zones. And to isolate China and maintain global support, the chosen island should not involve environmental abuses like China’s reef dredging, while also large enough to include a small airstrip and port.

    No invasion, no navy, no landing, no parachutes or heavy weapons are necessary, nor any lengthy international planning conference or UN vote that tips off Beijing. Simply start by engaging one or two states most desperate to deter China’s encroachments. Then peacefully establish the initial 2- or 3-nation force on the chosen island. Other nations will follow out of their own maritime interests. Candidates most desperate to yield real estate for this include Taiwan (Taiping Island, a.k.a., Itu Aba) and Vietnam (Spratly Island proper, a.k.a., Storm Island). Then the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and Singapore may send their contingents to Peace Island, while larger allied nations make frequent port visits there, perhaps even exercises. Peace Island – dispute settled.

    • .Hugo.

      roc (taiwan) has the same claim of the prc over the islands. why should it recognize the claim of the rogue states? the philippines invaded the roc held zhongye/thitu island in 1971, the roc has not recognized the philippine occupation at all.
      .
      your most desperate rogue states are also among the poorest and least capable militarily. vietnam is occupying the most islands in the nansha island chain, why will it let the other rogue states and even foreign powers to intervene?
      .
      indonesia and singapore have no territorial claim there, why should they risk their people’s lives and spent so much money to keep a force on a foreign island?
      .
      brunei and malaysia have opted to work with china in a peaceful way.
      .
      and finally who will pay for your frequent port visits?
      .

      • Easy answers. First a “rogue state” is a nation that dredges undersea reefs thus committing environmental damage, then fabricates fake islands nobody recognizes, then stomps out of international tribunals that rule against it, and finally arms those fake islands with offensive long-range weapons after its Dictator-For-Life promised not to.

        Addressing your overall point, my proposal assumes all claimants recognize – and they have – that there is a new threat that dwarfs their previous disputes with each other. At some point they must either unify or potentially suffer from PRC’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the South China Sea’s islands. Such cleansing has already begun with PRC’s armed paramilitary fishing fleet.

        Other nations, i.e., Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, Australia, India (ya’know, “allies”?) would have an interest due to their reliance on the SCS which is universally recognized as international waters. They would gladly endorse a joint “Peace Island” and fund the port visits of their own naval vessels. They are now funding their own participation in July’s U.S. hosted Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC).

        Having no allies of it’s own, China’s dictatorship remains isolated and is thus increasingly belligerent. Even North Korea considers a U.S. summit a bigger prize. This explains China’s Second “Century of Humiliation.” It’s self-inflicted.

        • TomD

          “…potentially suffer from PRC’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the South China Sea’s islands. Such cleansing has already begun with PRC’s armed paramilitary fishing fleet.”

          I’m sorry, but are you stating that those islands are populated and their populations are being removed by China? Or is this just a metaphor?

          • By “begun” I mean the PRC’s armed paramilitaries are a just start. As fishing and other commercial activities dwindle due to bullying, China’s “sausage slicing escalation may next turn against any human presence on the Spratly’s that is not PRC. That would include Taiping and Storm Islands.

          • .Hugo.

            china has no issue of the taiping island being controlled by the roc (taiwan) for decades, it’s chinese after all. the roc knows it and that’s why it has reduced its defense strength from marines to coast guard in recent years.
            .
            the real aggressors here are vietnam and the philippines (if it has the strength like in the 1960s).
            .
            and storm island in nansha? where is that???

          • I’m not surprised that graduates of PLA boot camp don’t know that Storm Island is an alternative name for the main Spratly Island. Everything you’ve written is CCP and PLA dogma, not recognized internationally. It explains the absence of any allies.

            It explains why China is so isolated despite being bailed out by the U.S. In 1945 with Japan’s defeat. China had a golden opportunity to repay the U.S. with peaceful cooperation, and instead it suffers a self-inflicted second Century of Humiliation.

          • .Hugo.

            unfortunately your “alternative name” was only used in the 19th century. with that i can only assume that your education stops pretty much at that period of time. 🙂
            .
            and it’s spratly islands, or the spratlys, or the nansha islands, or the nansha island chain. maybe you have been only referring to just one spratly “island” (or the chinese nanwei island, invaded by vietnam in 1973) all the time too?
            .
            on 7 sep 1955, when the roc replied the first secretary of the u.s. embassy, donald e webster, about the scs islands ownership, the name spratly island was used, and that’s official. copy of the letter is kept in the roc archive, and i have seen the extracted part of it too.
            .
            i really have to wonder just how much you know about the history of the islands before you post.
            .
            when has the u.s. bailed out china? since when has the marshall plan been implemented in china after the war? are you really referring to the history of this planet?
            .
            i am also finding strange when i have been quoting roc (taiwan) information instead of the prc, but you keep mentioning pla boot camp and pla dogma, hmm…… 😛
            .

        • TomD

          “This explains China’s Second “Century of Humiliation.” It’s self-inflicted.”

          You are alluding to the real cause of the problem.

          Henry Kissinger reportedly met with Hua Guofeng, who bitterly complained that matches are called ‘foreign flame’ in China because in their modern form were not invented there. This xenophobia goes far beyond what is seen in the West.

          In the U.S. nearly everyone admires Chinese culture – TV shows and movies that depict Chinese culture are widely enjoyed. Everyone eats Chinese food. So, the problem is really China’s current anti-Western campaign, which will of course result in projection of Western malevolence.

        • .Hugo.

          that’s vietnam, while china uses new technology to mimic the nature by dredging from the same seabed to cover the dead corals on the surface. new plantation on the islands has also attracted sea birds to stay and further enhance the eco system.
          .
          artificial islands are built with unclos rights.
          .
          the so-called “tribunal” was actually an arbitration service hired only by the philippines, and china has the unclos rights to reject it, and china has done that, voiding all proceedings afterwards. that’s clearly stated in unclos too.
          .
          i have to wonder if you have ever read unclos before you post.
          .
          missiles for air and sea defense are not offensive weapons. their long ranges are to deter the aggression from a non-scs state.
          .
          in fact, no rogue states in the scs has ever recognized the others’ claims, as everyone wants the whole pie, especially after oil and gas were discovered in the 1970s, and that’s at least 20 years after modern china announced its maritime border. no state has protested at all in 1947 when china made its announcement.
          .
          actually, vietnam has occupied the most chinese islands in the nansha island chain, and it has built on more islands and reefs than china.
          .
          ethnic cleansing of what? ah that must be how the invaders removing historic chinese markers and relics from the chinese islands when they landed.
          .
          china has the highest stake and reliance on the scs too, and based on unclos there is no such thing called international waters either.
          .
          by the way, i really don’t know how your “allies” work when huge money has to be spent (and even the risk of lives). i just don’t know why they will want to fund something with no solid return at all and will even harm its economy especially with chinese trade.
          .
          rimpac is not “funded”, it’s a participation of an exercise.
          .
          china doesn’t believe in the “pay only allies”, that’s why it has founded the shanghai cooperation organization which covers more than 40% of the world’s population and a large portion of economic activities. it has also signed strategic partnership agreements with most major countries and world bodies to achieve mutual benefits. we can clearly see the results, even the u.s. “allies” have rushed to join china’s initiatives, and all the u.s. can resort to are its usual tricks — threats and provocations.
          .
          before every move by nk, kim has consulted china. 🙂
          .

  • Duane

    No – PRC does not have defacto control of the SCS … that is preposterous … but merely the perception by some that they do have control is the precise objective of all that the PRC has been doing. They are engaged in a psy op campaign, not a military campaign. Here are some very simple rules that if followed will easily defeat PRC’s plan to dominate and control the SCS:

    1) Stop saying they already control the SCS. Everytime some doofus says that and it gets repeated on USNI and other news outlets, the PRC wins another round

    2) Continue, and intensify FONOPS in SCS – every time we send one there it proves in obvious fashion that those who say PRC has defacto control of SCS are lying

    3) Hold large scale multi-domain military exercises with our allies in the waters surrounding PRC’s fake islands. Call their effing bluff with a vengeance, which will cause massive loss of face. If the Chinese react by attacking our forces, wipe them out. Sooner or later this is what it will come to anyway … better it be sooner than later as PRC continues to build up its naval forces.

    4) Yes, most certainly, sign the darned free trade agreement with our Pacific allies.

    However, I do not think that any of the above will happen as long as Trump is in the White House. After already selling us all out to Putin, Trump has already started a full court press to sell us out to Xi, having already ordered the rescue of Xi’s largest telecom company, ZTE, that is a confirmed international spy operation, and killed off the Trans-Pacific Partnership … and Trump is now being played like a fiddle by Xi and Kim, they recognising that Trump is obviously willing to sell us out yet again for a shot at a Nobel Peace Prize and, he hopes, stave off a Democrat wipeout of the GOP this November. Trump will call it “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula” … but what it will actually be is de-Americanization of the Korean peninsula … which is a necessary predicate to PRC actually taking over control of the SCS and the entire West Pac

    • WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

      By all means, let’s get “bend-over” o-baaaaaama back in office, I’m sure foreign dignitaries will have more ‘fun’ with him, or maybe he’s too ‘busy’ with “Michael er I mean Michelle…” or Reggie “Love.”

  • PolicyWonk

    We can thank George W Bush’s “trade policy” for giving the ChiComs all the tools they needed to dramatically speed their military build-up. According to the US National Intelligence Estimates, the administration of GWB permitted the largest giveaway of dual-use technologies in global history, the manufacturing know-how, 8M+ US jobs (not counting the tax base), and 30% of the US strategic industrial base, in just 6 years (2002-2008).

    These served to give China the technologies, industrial base, and money to conduct a military build-up in a fraction of the time it otherwise would have taken. Even worse, now that China’s build-up is well under way, they are now ratcheting up their diplomatic belligerence, to settle old scores that have been lingering for hundreds of years.

    The US NIE considered this massive giveaway, done solely in return for short-term profits of GOP donors, a massive national security disaster, not only for the USA, but also for the entire Asian-Pacific region. They added that the Bush Administration simply gave away far more technologies in 6 years than the USSR got in 60 years of Cold War.

    To be fair, we’ve known for ages that the Chinese would eventually take over as the predominant power, even exceeding that of the USA. However, this government utterly failed to protect this nations interests, by giving the technologies away that massively accelerated China’s ascendancy – by decades.

    In short, its bad enough the GOP sold out US national security; but to sell out the national security of our allies and so many other nations is disgusting, if not treasonous. With “friends” like these, these other nations don’t need enemies.

    • muzzleloader

      We can also thank the stupid Russians for the fire sale of military hardware in the early 90’s.
      Boris Yeltsin was so hard up for hard currency that he allowed the sale of Kilo class subs and SU-27 fighters and Kuznetsov class CV’s, which of course the Chinese reverse engineered.

      • PolicyWonk

        The Russian learned the hard way, that by selling that hardware (they were desperate for hard currency at the time), the Chinese reverse engineered it, and started building and selling identical hardware as original Chinese product (the parts were so good, they were directly interchangeable with originals).

        So they gained a bit of money initially, but lost their shirts.

        Unfortunately, the USA failed to learn this painfully obvious lesson (this government is full of flagrant idiots), and were stupid enough to think the ChiComs would abide by contractural obligations (a laughable idea). That of course, ignores thousands of years of Chinese business/trade traditions (get the deal done, then do whatever your want, and “EFF” the contract).

        • Scott Ferguson

          Chinese knock offs have NEVER been as “good” as Russian hardware.

          Clearly, you’ve never seen a Chinese version of a MiG….

          • PolicyWonk

            Chinese jets still have quite a ways to go to catch up – but most of their knockoffs are very good.

            But I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a considerable improvement in their jet engines before all that long: A top-secret US jet engine that went “missing” from a supposedly “highly secure” Israeli air base was traced to China, as was reported a while ago on DoD Buzz Dot Com…

            So much for being the “trusted friend and advisor”, as claimed by Netanyahu.

          • Hugh

            If their kit is almost but not quite as good as the West’s, but they can afford far greater numbers – danger!

          • Scott Ferguson

            It isn’t.

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, its competitive (in most cases) with *Russian* gear. However, given the tremendous influx of technologies we simply gave away, and the quality assurance we’ve demanded on products that were US designed and are now built in China: they have the know-how, budget, and wherewithal to deliver good product.

            The Chinese, as a result, may before long represent a more formidable opponent than Russia.

          • Scott Ferguson

            Which Chinese knock-offs are “very good”?

            Which engine was that?

            The Brits sold them all their surplus R-R Speys from their Phantom fleet.

            The Chi-coms can’t copy metallurgy.

            So much for your claims…

          • Scott Ferguson

            “…but most of their knockoffs are very good.”?

            According to what source?

        • Hugh

          While the Chinese agree to a contract initially, down the track if they see more in it for them they claim it is being “misinterpreted” and demand changes accordingly, and where the other party is the one in the wrong.

      • KazuakiShimazaki

        I can hardly blame the Russians for wanting to maintain an arms industry. The real problem IMO is the Russophobia that never really went away, versus the Sinophilia that only in the past 1-2 years is starting to fade, thus causing the wrong strategic decisions to be made. If the correct ones were made, the West would have recognized that in 20-25 years (from 1990) the new big problem would be China and work to get the Russians into that ring (which means not looking like a bigger threat to the Russians than the Chinese). One possible idea would be to use them as a kind of cheap Arsenal for the Asian countries (whose defence budgets are too limited to really buy large amounts of American equipment anyway, but would stretch to buy a decent quantity of Russian).

    • Hugh

      The Chinese economy, and hence their “defence” spending, has been turbocharged by their trade with the West.

      • PolicyWonk

        Indeed you are correct. And the USA gave then the wherewithal to do exactly that: we gave them the technologies, and direct access to our markets, thereby acting as the facilitators of our own demise.

    • Stephen

      All the blood, sweat & tears shed by the Greatest Generation just being poured into a wastebin. Where is our American exceptionalism? What has happened to the concept of looking to the left, then looking to the right & saying no matter what happens; I’ve got your back!?
      Armed fishing vessels; sounds like Pirates to me…

  • David Taraian

    I have a question. Is China truly a naval threat/power? The US Navy has over 200 years of experience, much of that gained in 2 world wars, not to mention the cold war. China, on the other hand, has no practical naval air, surface, or subsurface experience. Thoughts?

    • Duane

      China in general, and PRC in particular, have no history of winning wars against foreign powers, whether offensive or defensive. PRC has never fought a naval war or a naval battle PRC has lost every ground and air war it fought, including Korea (despite outnumbering US and UN forces by 5:1, they still got pushed out of South Korea), Russia (1969, along Siberian-China border), Vietnam (1979, China invaded and were easily defeated). China also lost its proxy war in Cambodia, supporting the genocidal Khmer Rouge, defeated by the Vietnamese and their proxies.

      The PRC makes its living via bullying and threats, but throughout all of history, including all prior regimes in power in China going back thousands of years, the Chinese have always been paper tigers, easily defeated when actual wars break out.

      Even today, few realize or appreciate that the PLA has only about 1 million soldiers on active duty, and virtually all of those are mere garrison forces whose main role is to keep the ChiComs in power .. it is not only a defensive force, but it is there to defend against the Chinese people, not against foreign invaders. They are pretty good at mowing down unarmed Chinese protesters with heavy tanks … at everything else, as history has shown, not so good.

      The PLAN is not an inconsequential force, but it is not a force that can or ever will “control the SCS”

      • Frank274

        All we have to do is send in our most powerful ships, the LCS fleet, that’ll clear the entire Chinese navy in no time. The one shot one kill 57mm kill is over-match for any weapon the Chinese can throw at us. And the LCS’s massive speed and stealth will dodge any anti-ship missiles coming it’s way. It’s basically untouchable.

        • Duane

          Naw …. we’l just send our dozen and a half LCS trolls out to confront the Chinese. They cower under the rekentless assault against logic by all those basement-bound keyboard warriors.

          • .Hugo.

            dozen and a half when you can’t even get a few to be fully operational? never mind that too when china can always deploy at least 2 dozens more capable corvettes plus more high speed missile boats to keep your lcs busy. 🙂
            .

    • tteng

      Most folks here are of naval background, perhaps subconsciously looking for a ‘naval China’ to confront. However, A2AD is mainly continent based, with hundred+ of airfields and thousands of missiles, with PLAN as supplemental force presumably will always operate under the continental coverage.

      • PolicyWonk

        For the time being this might be a reasonable assumption.

        However, the Chinese are building the logistical support ships and infrastructure to support global operations, which is why you see so many infrastructure investments (especially ports) world wide.

        • tteng

          In the long run, there are two possible reasonable outcome: big-2 confrontation, or big-2 accommodation. For the former, it does not make military sense that China is everywhere, spread itself thin everywhere, and try to fight USA everywhere. For the latter, it makes sense that China is preparing for the overlapping time that US is no longer willing to underwrite its world cop role on the behalf of dominant Chinese global trade.

          • PolicyWonk

            Well, China is well on its way to becoming the dominant global power, even eclipsing the USA. Their economic power, industrial base, and population can eventually make it every bit the global power the USA is.

            And if the USA continues down the path of far-below-junior-varsity-level diplomatic belligerence, alienating its long-standing allies, friends, and trading partners, while cozying up with two-bit dictators, etc., the doors will be wide open for them to do exactly that.

            The Chinese are playing a long game of global diplomacy that can be compared to three dimensional chess, while the USA’s leadership (in contrast) is barely capable of playing tic-tac-toe.

    • .Hugo.

      if you want to count the past years, than the chinese merchant fleets sailed the oceans long before the u.s. became a country.
      .
      the u.s. has also not engaged in any major air/sea battle against a major military power since ww2 (please don’t tell me iraq was one), in such case i don’t see the modern chinese fleet is a push over.

    • proudrino

      Experience (different from lessons learned) is generational. I’d argue that the eight years of deliberate and malicious mismanagement of the military by Obama has harmed our national security. The current crop of those serving in the military know more about sexual assault prevention, gay rights, and diversity than they do about warfighting. The substandard performance of the Seventh Fleet is indicitive of the bigger problem. A generation of non-warriors are in charge. Young enough the Cold War is something in the textbooks and brainwashed enough to be oblivious to the fact that they are social justice warriors in uniform; not real warriors.

  • Western

    Somewhere, there is a submarine crew whispering, “Hold my beer.” China, Schmina.

  • proudrino

    “For Trump, Freier said the president needed to be very careful in discussing American troop levels in Korea and joint exercises during the negotiations, regarding them as more than bargaining chips. Likewise, the president also needed to realize that reaching an accord with Kim on intercontinental ballistic missiles threatening the United States does not lessen Pyongyang’s ability to strike Japan with shorter-range missiles — a continuing security concern in Tokyo.”

    Gee thanks Mr. Freier. I’m sure the President hadn’t thought of any of that stuff. Or is it that you are just another Trump-hating liberal academic who despise the fact that this administration doesn’t kow tow to China the way Obama did?

    • PolicyWonk

      Or is it that you are just another Trump-hating liberal academic who despise the fact that this administration doesn’t kow tow to China the way Obama did?
      ====================================================
      Wow – impressive diatribe.

      Trump’s own staffers say the man cannot keep a secret, refuses to read even the 2-page summaries of reports his department heads prepare for him, won’t read the Daily Briefs the CIA prepares for him, has a remarkably short attention span, can’t be bothered to study the issues he supposed supports, shows up late for work every day, and even his publicly published schedule demonstrates he *might* work 1.5 hours/day, providing he can tear himself away from watching Fox News and tweeting BRAVO SIERRA, when he isn’t obsessing about Hillary, Obama, or other useless distractions.

      Now, that’s what people who LIKE him say.

      The very conservative WSJ has recently taken to scorching Mr. Trump’s lack of coherent foreign policy, his lack of competence (and negotiating skills) w/r/t trade, tariffs, and economics, and even sided with Canadian PM Trudeau (!!!) regarding the “renegotiation” of NAFTA. When a GOP president has all but lost the (Murdoch-owned) WSJ, you know we’re not in Kansas anymore.

      There is precious little evidence supporting any reason to have any faith whatsoever in Mr. Trump taking the time to think through any major problem: it defies (recent and otherwise) history; it defies the comments made by his own staff; it defies comments made by his former employees and business partners; it defies comments made by his own party leadership; and defies comments made by our international friends and allies.

      And you should know better than to bring up “kow-towing”, when Mr. Trump is part of the conversation. Globally, it is well known on foreign policy sites, that if you want something from Mr. Trump, all you have to do is excessively flatter him; stroke his ego; and hand him some trinkets: you’ll get what you want. It’s worked perfectly for China, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, among many others. Then there’s his “relationship” with Putin (gag).

      To put it mildly, Obama was demonstrably as tough as nails compared to this weak-minded man: and that is the global consensus.

      • Gary Wilson

        PolicyWonk, which “staffers” are saying these things? And you believe these reports from “unnamed staffers”? President Trump is a very “results oriented” leader. I think you will see lots of positive results by the time he is done. What do you recommend that he do to improve the situation?

        • PolicyWonk

          There is plenty of reason to believe the “unnamed staffers”, because those reports are completely consistent with those from all the other mentioned sources.

          I’d like to think there’ll be lots of positive results, but I see no indication of any in the offing, especially given current circumstances, and the aforementioned reports, let alone all the analysis work/reports available on international foreign policy sites, the foreign press of our allies and foes alike, and congressional representatives (let alone the WSJ). Then there’s listening to his speeches, etc., where its clear he hasn’t done his homework and is seemingly unable to articulate any coherent position.

          If he wants to be a successful POTUS, he could start by knuckling under and doing his homework so that he can demonstrate he has a basic grasp of the issues that this nation faces. When he walks away from deals like the TPP without any plan/strategy to replace it, only to try to get back in, with the result being our allies telling him to pound sand, is not a positive result. He could also take concrete steps to “drain the swamp”, but he continues to turn what was merely a swamp into a superfund site. He could live up to the oath he took to protect and preserve the Constitution – but doesn’t. The lobbyists have all but taken over the administration, and all the environmental and financial protections made to protect this nation from economic disaster are now be systematically weakened and dismantled. The so-called “tax reform” gives mere lunch money to the large portion of his constituents, but monstrously enriches the ultra-wealthy and corporate interests he promised to go after, while endangering the economic future of the nation.

          Sorry – he’d have to extirpate practically every thing he’s done, and become a responsible steward of this nation and its resources. But that would be a good start.

          Cheers.

          • Curtis Conway

            The Tax-Cut policy increased revenues to the country, unemployment is the lowest in HiStory, and we actually have more jobs than workers. There were just under a million workers who had fled the workforce who returned recently.

  • TomD

    “Gregson said that initially the United States defense perimeter in the Pacific after World War II did not take in Korea. The result of that miscalculation was the invasion of South Korea by Kim’s grandfather and later Chinese intervention in the war.”

    There is a famous January 12, 1950 speech in which Secretary of State Dean Achenson omitted South Korea; this is the event that Gregson is citing.

    According to Norman Friedman in The Fifty-Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War (USNI 2007), this is a myth. Friedman’s research showed that Kim Il Sung originally was going to invade South Korea in 1949. Stalin approved the concept, since it would test U.S. resolve with an eye to a later invasion of Western Europe (the Truman administration’s assessment of this intent, much derided by revisionist historians, was thus proved correct by Friedman), but he persuaded Kim to put off the invasion for a year so that the first Soviet nuclear test would be complete. The Korean War die was cast prior to the ‘miscalculation’ in Washington.

  • Oldsalt

    Good and insightful, and up-to-date article.

  • Hugh

    Japan grew to be number 2 economically, peacefully. Economically China could grow to be number 1 globally, peacefully – so why the huge military build up unless there is a more sinister agenda?!

    • chris chuba

      If China has the #1 economy then what type of military would you allow them, #10, #5 … ?

      Maybe they want to be able to protect their own trade routes just in case the U.S. goes lunatic on them and decides that we don’t want them to grow anymore. They want to patrol their own block.

  • Todd

    All we have to do is pull out our ancient 12 dash line (everyone knows chinese lines are tiny) that shows that the real name of the south china sea is the “eastern Pacific sea.”

  • Curtis Conway

    For our nuclear powered forces there are two reasons to make a ship nuclear-powered: mission and cost. A great argument for conventional submarines w/r/t US Navy Force Structure permanently based overseas, and operating in a specific region is easily made and wise in many ways.
    Bases in Okinawa, Singapore, Subic Bay, and Guam, provides sufficient range and endurance for regional AIP/diesel electric submarine assets. In the event that conflict arises in the South China Sea, Korean Sea, Black Sea, Baltic Sea, or Sea of Japan the assets are readily available. Other areas where regional assets would be most valuable would be the Arctic & Caribbean.
    The “unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs)” have proven very valuable, but have some problems of their own. Some years back we got back an unmanned submersible from the Chinese fished out of the South China Sea, which is an experience we do not want to repeat.
    A ‘manned’ conventional diesel electric submarine will be “…built and optimized for very specific tasks” . . , and perform those tasks in specific regions. These boats and their crews will be the Subject Matter Expert on the bottom water contours and features of their area of operation, and be able to use them to their advantage without the nuclear submarine operational problems.
    The air independent propulsion (AIP) submarine has demonstrated its deadly nature in multiple exercises for decades in the Pacific and Atlantic. A practical demonstration of that point would be in 2005, when HMS Gotland, a Swedish AIP submarine, “sank” many U.S. nuclear fast-attack subs, destroyers, frigates, cruisers, and even the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) aircraft carrier in joint exercises. In real combat they would have just sank the carrier and run, but the joint exercise was very instructive in the capabilities of an AIP/diesel electric submarine when pitted against some of the most sophisticated ASW systems in the fleet today.
    One of the most deadly adversarial threats to US surface forces today is the AIP/diesel electric submarine. Denying this truth is working against US Naval Force Structure (actual and projected) at this point in HiStory. Sticking to a ‘nuclear submarine force only’ policy is unwise because it is inefficient, denies the US Navy this valuable tool and tactical advantage, and is economically irresponsible.

    • PolicyWonk

      Absolutely correct – I couldn’t agree more – for the same reasons.

      The USA has fallen far behind when it comes to AIP/conventional boat development. An AIP fleet, in conjunction with forward basing, especially in the Asian-Pacific region, the ME, and Med, would make a big difference, provide this nation with far more coverage at a better price point, and provide us with a super silent weapon system in a wide variety of environment.

      That said, I do not see AIP boats being used as much in arctic climates: but I’m happy to be convinced otherwise.

      • Curtis Conway

        A nuke under the ice is obviously the way to go, but for other littoral work an AIP conventional construct with some legs is very advantageous.
        Standing up that AIP/diesel electric submarine force would take less effort and education than invested in the nuclear submarine program, piggy-back on much of the training, and it will grow with time, particularly with cross-decked experience from some of our Allies. I sure hope the Navy wakes up to this concept, and if they don’t . . . Congress pushes them in that direction.

        We need an AIP/Diesel Electric Submarine Program in the US Navy, and a yard constructing same on both coasts.

        • PolicyWonk

          Love the “nuke under the ice” idea 😀

          Given that we can build 3 AIP boats for the cost of 1 Virginia, I don’t see how we can’t afford to do it, given the benefits and additional coverage we’d garner.

          The AIP boats should be supplemental to our Virginia fleet.

          The sad thing, is that you’re making too much sense, and it’ll never work with the current breed of bubble-heads.

          • Curtis Conway

            Since when did the Navy Department ever do anything that met the common sense standard?

          • PolicyWonk

            Good point.

  • Ed L

    Forward deploy LCS’s in groups of 3 out of Taiwan, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Korea. As trip wires for the fleet. The LCS’s can do FON in the South China Sea. Or as the Koreans say the Western Sea.

    • proudrino

      So…. One LCS for patrol. One LCS in maintenance period. And one LCS for parts?

      • Ed L

        Being followed by Chinese frigates or destroyers

        • .Hugo.

          there are far more chinese corvettes (not even have to deploy frigates or destroyers) to follow just a few lcs. it happens to be a more capable ship too than the lcs…

      • BMC retired

        one LCS to sink quickly, one LCS to sink less quickly, and one LCS to be vaporized

  • TDog

    The current obsession with the South China Sea points to three problems with US strategic thought when it comes to China: an inability to prioritize, an inability to recognize that this is a political problem, and a stubborn – some might say immature – dedication to seeking a military role in any solution to this issue.

    When resources are limited, you can prioritize and therefore devote adequate resources to those issues that need addressing. If you cannot or will not figure that out, the default is to try to solve everything at the same time. The inevitable result is to spread oneself thin and get nothing accomplished. At this point in time, the reality is that the US military is already spread thin in the myriad locations the Pentagon swears are vital to national security. So while we chase bands of terrorists – all of whom apparently possess the keys to destroying the US and its entire way of life in the blink of an eye – we simultaneously seek to boost our own egos by trying to convince China they should, in the words so often employed by The National Interest, fear us.

    But the time China was afraid of us has long since passed since, to be quite frank, we have displayed nothing for the past seventeen going on eighteen years but rank strategic stupidity. We have expended over a trillion dollars and gained nothing but more threats to combat. That is worse than make work – that is make trouble and then patting ourselves on the back for keeping things interesting. That sort of facile self-congratulatory but ultimately self-destructive behavior is not anything anyone would fear, respect, or even take seriously. And by seeking to swagger in with our guns glinting in the sunlight, we only reinforce China’s somewhat low opinion of our political and strategic acumen.

    I know a lot of folks will claim that war is politics pursued by other means, but the way we do it, war is not politics by other means, but rather it is pursued for its own sake with political, economic, and even strategic goals given barely an afterthought if they are given one at all. We have yet to figure out that right now the SCS is not a problem. China is seeking to secure its interests and those interests, while not exactly warm and fuzzy, hardly damages US security. It abrades our military pride and ego, perhaps, to have someone other than ourselves enforce their wills upon others, but pride and ego are both ultimately really dumb reasons to stumble into a conflict.

    We need to realize that if all heck does break loose in the SCS, we can and will be able to fight our way back in. The urge to proclaim our ability to prevent any such crisis by our mere presence is both unrealistic and laughably narcissistic. If we take World War II as an example, I somehow doubt the presence of a handful of US naval vessels in the region or even 60% scattered about the entire Pacific would have done anything other than get our ships and men killed piecemeal. We can be everywhere at once, but not in numbers and certainly not in strength.

    Unless, of course, the idea is to get US service members killed or injured, thereby precipitating a war the upper echelons want so badly. After all, we have no problem throwing the lower ranks under the bus to cover the careers of the higher ups when accidents occur, so how would this be any different?

    • chris chuba

      In short, we suffer from ‘target fixation’ and are always distracted by the bright shiny object.

      China is doing something so we mobilize everything we have in the neighborhood to go on patrol. This is a great recipe for bankruptcy. No one asks what sailing around their reefs and flipping them the bird accomplishes other than making us feel good about ourselves as long as we are doing something. We lost almost 60,000 people fighting Vietnam, I’m glad we are over it but why do we give a flip if they own the Paracel Islands?

      • While I agree that U.S. decision making is often flawed, I hope nobody sees the South China Sea as merely harboring trivial reefs and islands. The SCS is a de facto extension of the strategic Strait of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia, and the vital link for trade between East Asia and the Indian Ocean/Persian Gulf.

        Nearly all shipping (including half of the world’s oil transported by sea) that passes through the Mallaca also passes through the SCS. Alternate routes cost 15-20% more in shipping days, dollars and delays. For Japan, Korea, Philippines, Taiwan and, yes, China, that extra cost is the difference between growth and recession, perhaps even depression and revolution with global consequences.

        So freedom of navigation is vital in the SCS, and the key to maintaining its status as International Waters is to ensure its island features remain multinational, not subject to China’s ethnic cleansing, dredging, reef damage, arming and threatening.

        • Curtis Conway

          Not to mention a primary food source (fish) for a half dozen countries, of which Chinese Coast Guard has been intervening even in these countries EEZs. It is EASY to spot a Bully on the Playground.

          • .Hugo.

            fish swim around, and it can swim to the other eez.
            .
            and to ensure ample supplies, china has also enforced seasonal fishing bans to allow the fish population to grow. why not tell me which other scs states have done that.
            .
            and when you are in chinese eez, it is of course the chinese coast guard to enforce the law.
            .
            and for most scs states, the primary food source is still grain, not fish.

          • MzUnGu

            U let Philippine and Vietnam worry about that. The same people that kick US out of Subic Bay, and South Vietnam, incase you didn’t get the message. LOL

            I think they rather have an Asian bully than a white one. 😛
            .

          • Curtis Conway

            A very simple analysis of the forces at large in both countries, and the Vietnamese warming to the American economy and extended political palm branches would indicate otherwise. The Chinese placing an oil exploration drilling rig in their Northern EEZ in contested territory helped as well. Vietnam won land engagements, and lost sea engagements to the Chinese right after the unification. NO, they very much want our help. The South China Sea Fisheries are dominated by the Chinese fishing fleet, and protected by the very obtrusive Chinese Coast Guard. All ASEAN members have a perspective on this, and its not favorable to them.

          • MzUnGu

            More like all ASEAN members all have a different claim to the islands on this. US simply cannot back one country there without pissing off the other 3 or 4 allies or countries.

            Vietnam may welcome US investment $, but military partnership or a lily-pad off Vietnam is at least 20 years away, if at all. By that time, I think most of these country would be rather doing biz with China. the most anyone in the US can do is pretty much these limited radio-silence transit around the islands….bit of a lost cause, face saving gesture for the US.

            If anything gets overtly heated down there, all China have to do is let loose their leash on North Korea mad dog, then all that US’ ships and attention will get shifted up north and away anyway.

            I just happens to think China have all the cards in this game, unless there is a huge economic boom in Vietnam or Philippine, where those country can afford to buy more mil. hardware, China will own it.

            No point playing there really… unless Vietnam or Philippine sell the drilling rights off their coast to a US company.

        • chris chuba

          “the strategic Strait of Malacca”

          Yeah including most of China’s oil supply and it really pisses them off that we conduct annual joint naval exercises there with Australia. If China played games and even tried to cut off commerce in the SCS, their economy would die. If we decided China got too big for their britches and tried to strangle them, it would inconvenience us but kill them. They want to control their own fate not depend on our good intentions.

          China has NEVER threatened ‘freedom of navigation’ this is an invention of ours to make it look like we belong there.

          • .Hugo.

            so blocking the malacca strait to threaten china?
            .
            thanks for restating the reason why china has to counter the u.s. hegemony in the region. 🙂
            .

        • .Hugo.

          china has never hindered freedom of navigation in the scs, only the u.s. has done that in the past. china has never threatened japan to block off its oil supplies from the scs, only japan/u.s. has threatened china on that.
          .
          and exactly because china doesn’t want its freedom of navigation to be hindered by a foreign power, it has to enhance its defense in the area.
          .
          ehtnic cleansing when only china has really developed the islands before any invasion? dredging by mimicking natural phenomenon (and on dead coral on the surface)? reef damage when only the philippines and the u.s. have grounded their vessels on it? don’t see any valid point there….
          .

          • “Freedom of navigation” means passage without notice or permission, therefore truly unhindered, but Beijing’s dictatorship does not honor this.

            Beijing demands that vessels and aircraft pre-announce their intentions before transiting the sea/air lanes between Vietnam and the Philippines, otherwise known as the international waters of the South China Sea. Many civilian vessels and aircraft do give notice, but only for traffic safety reasons.

            Beijing’s demands assume such transits are “innocent passage,” – a diplomatic mariners term, not to be confused with free navigation – through their territorial waters, but of course 99% of the SCS is nobody’s territorial waters. Nor are dredged reefs and fake islands anything but international waters. This is why the allies sail through unannounced despite Beijing’s baseless protests.

            “Mimicking natural phenomenon” is an amusing interpretation. It’s like saying lightning has killed a few Tibetans, so it’s OK for Beijing to kill half a million of them.

          • .Hugo.

            thanks for pointing out the critical point, that’s why the u.s. has refused to sign on unclos as it doesn’t want its naval operation to be restricted in other country’s eez. 🙂
            .
            and to the exact opposite, china has honored and followed unclos in full.
            .
            china only requests military vessels to gain approval:
            The People’s Republic of China reaffirms that the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea concerning innocent passage through the territorial sea shall not prejudice the right of a coastal State to request, in accordance with its laws and regulations, a foreign State to obtain advance approval from or give prior notification to the coastal State for the passage of its warships through the territorial sea of the coastal State.
            .
            this is also in accordance to article 30:
            If any warship does not comply with the laws and regulations of the coastal State concerning passage through the territorial sea and disregards any request for compliance therewith which is made to it, the coastal State may require it to leave the territorial sea immediately.
            .
            .
            in fact, it was the u.s. itself which first demanded all aircraft to pre-announce their intentions when entering the u.s./japan adiz set up right in front of china’s doorstep. i guess it fits your description of dictatorship very much. 🙂
            .
            and let’s look at eez claim of the scs states:
            dDOTibtimesDOTcoDOTuk/en/full/1439091/south-china-sea-dispute-areas.png?w=546&e=7477f106b5afdaebecd288093725c1ad
            .
            if the u.s. really recognizes every scs state’s claim, then there is no such thing as your “international waters” (not an unclos term at all). now, has the u.s. ever recognized any claim from any state? the answer is NO. 🙂
            .
            by the way, innocent passage is an unclos definition, not your so-called “diplomatic mariners term”.
            .
            china did not create lightning, china has only developed new land reclamation technology which doesn’t harm the environment and has even promoted the eco system. 🙂

          • First, the U.S. indeed has signed on to UNCLOS, but as a treaty the U.S. senate has not ratified it. This is different from dictatorships that don’t have elected legislators. It’s called democracy.

            Second, by admitting China demands permission for transiting the SCS, you’ve just confessed it’s NOT offering “freedom of navigation.” After all, if permission is not requested, does the PLA just say “have a nice day”? Also, Beijing has ordered their armed paramilitary fishing fleet to ram other vessels and block access to fisheries claimed by multiple nations. That’s not “free navigation.” You simply didn’t know what “innocent passage” was, just as you can’t find Storm Island on a map. Humiliating.

            Third, by quoting Article 30’s mention of territorial waters, you’ve continued the PLA boot camp dogma that the SCS belongs to China. The region and world rejects this and China’s dictatorship is now isolated. Humiliating.

            Fourth, had China “followed UNCLOS in full,” the dictatorship would NOT have dredged undersea reefs to fabricate fake islands, which UNCLOS has now invalidated (and even rebuked Beijing for environmental damage). This is why the U.S. Navy sails inside of 12 miles of those reefs – they’re still international waters. Humiliating.

            Lastly, lightning and weather-related reef damage are both natural events. So for China to claim their reef dredging damage is some kind of improvement, it’s akin to justifying the killing of half a million Tibetans because lightning naturally kills them too. A humiliating CCP confession.

          • .Hugo.

            wrong.
            .
            the u.s. is never an unclos signatory, because by signing on it the u.s. naval operation all around the world will be seriously restricted.
            .
            there is restriction applied to warships and non-civilian navigation in unclos in the first place, china is simply following it. the chinese law enforcement agencies were taking actions against u.s. military vessels which did not comply with unclos requirements.
            .
            in unclos “innocent passage” applies to civilian vessels and not military vessels.
            .
            and before i quoted article 30, i have quoted china’s ratification first. only with your u.s. hegemonic ideology that you have chosen to ignore them. another demonstration of how the u.s. doesn’t want to follow the real world order (but without u.s. consent). 🙂
            .
            unclos articles 56 and 60 grant the right to signatory countries to build in their eez. chinese construction in its own eez is fully unclos compliant.
            .
            in the contrast, by grounding a landing craft on the reef and let it rust and to let its crew to pollute the surrounding water is damaging the environment. u.s. warships have done the same too before.
            .
            and it’s more humiliating when the u.s. warships all have to leave the chinese territorial waters without the guts to resist after being demanded by the chinese navy. 🙂
            .
            and again, china did not create lighting. in fact, only the u.s. has done similar things in hiroshima and nagasaki and killed thousands of innocent people.
            .
            .

            .

      • TDog

        Exactly. And if it comes down to a war, every missile we fire costs darn near what one of their entire ships costs. I exaggerate, of course, but the economy of scale the Chinese are able to take advantage of by dint of their greater industrial capacity as well as their proximity to the fighting means they can turn out more cheaper and get it into the fight faster than we can.

    • Curtis Conway

      This anomaly in the South China Sea is the result of a hands-off, laissez-faire attitude, and withdrawal from Treaty Obligations that many forgot about, or just ignored thinking the problem would never transpire, go away, or turn into something else (a good thing?), and it did not. Proactive Presence is EXACTLY that, and the last administration consciously (with malice of forethought) forgot that. Purposefully? Don’t know for sure, but all indicators look that way, and China could not have been the only beneficiary.

      The obvious way to prevent getting “US service members killed or injured” is to provide them the tools they need in the first place, unlike an LCS. NO Ship gets to pick its tasks, they are assigned, and sometimes those assignments come when you are the only asset in the region. Let us make sure they have the tools to deal with the tasks without ANY special requirements, like the helo is launched, and just happens to be equipped with a torpedo when one is needed for EMERGENT tasking, or have an AAW warhead large and capable enough to deal with the threat coming their way.

      • PolicyWonk

        Sadly, to a large extent your’re right. Unfortunately, the current administration also remains culpable, as they’ve been doing the “quid pro quo” with China in return for their support w/r/t N. Korea.

        If the LCS classes had been reasonably designed, then even with the toothless SUW mission package, it could’ve been proactively patrolling the S. China Sea doing the “presence” mission(s).

        Lots of problems – and a large number of them are our own fault, stretching all the way back to 2002-2008, where by far the worst of the problems really began.

        • Curtis Conway

          The ‘seeds were planted’ for a ‘cheaper surface combatant’ back in the 80’s when I was still on active duty, and the Navy was staring at a $1 Billion an Aegis Cruiser. By the time the DDG-51 was complete, and all the SPY-1D OT&E wrapped up that had ratcheted up considerably for ‘Just A Destroyer’ costing over $1 Billion. THAT is when the decision was made to make expendable ships, of course they never called them that. Then, they gave this new warship class the false sense of security thru ‘speed on the water’, which in this 2D environment just makes you an easier target to find. Then they equipped it like a featherweight . . . using rotating radars (sigh!), and didn’t build them to US Navy Regulation Surface Combatant Standards. They just Exempted them, and redefined the terms.

          Expendability of our troops came about ‘just after’ the Berlin Wall fell, and the Left embraced their [former] Communist brethren who flocked to the West, but never changed their ways of thinking, and influenced the Left with a non-American loathsome attitude about the ‘oppressive military’, which is NOT the American model with our Christian Sacrificial Service. Now we are infected, and up until last year there was no light on the horizon, but it is just now beginning to peak. Hope we catch up. Keep the Faith!

          AND for G-d’s sake, don’t EVER let another non-Surface Warfare Community qualified combat troop be involved in design of our Surface Warfare weapons of the future . . . again. I Have A Need For Speed?!

          • PolicyWonk

            Clearly, the “speed through the water” idea made a lot more sense in the pre-digital days, when guns were still the main armament.

            Once ASM’s became the weapon(s) of choice, that speed became less beneficial, especially since the seekers and/or warheads have progressed to the point that speed is all but irrelevant (it does help get on station quickly, though every sub in the hemisphere will know about it).

            The folks in LCS-land never got the memo, and the only reason I’ve seen justifying the high-speed was to quickly return to base to change mission packages – the necessity of which is now sharply reduced based on the decision to assign a mission package to the boat, and for the most part leave it installed permanently.

            Others have suggested that the LCS’s high speed is there so they can run away at the first sign of trouble.

            I, too, lament that we’re not building ’em the way we used to. I find the idea of the ship/crew being expendable abhorrent and irresponsible. Boats like the old PT’s were comprised of volunteer crews that earned hazardous duty pay: this is not the case for LCS.

          • Curtis Conway

            When challenged about the ‘speed requirement’ some years ago, the defensive argument kept going to and quoting the Aviation mantra about ‘Speed is life’, and it is in the air. A aviator can always trade altitude for energy and go hide behind something, in the ground clutter, or just outrun the opponent. However, in the 2D combat environment if the ship EVER trades altitude for energy, it keeps going to the bottom of the ocean, and feeds the fish on the way. I had this discussion a dozen times over the last decade, and it became clear that there was economic/political reasons why the decision had been made (not tactical). That decision [to build LCS] had NOTHING TO DO with effectiveness in the combat environment at sea, and those sent to defend the policy neither understood the metrics of combat at sea, or respected our force at large. They were just making money and moving their mouths defending the activity. THAT is why FFG(X) is so important, and if an LCS model is selected . . . we will KNOW those discredited values are still there.
            “The LCS’s high speed is there so they can run away at the first sign of trouble” ONLY works when we are NOT AT WAR. As a warship, it is more often the kiss of death in this modern, national asset ridden, instant communications, supersonic ASCM environment. THAT is why EVERY Surface Combatant MUST be multi-warfare capable, and when Directed Energy Weapons finally come out, it will be the standard.
            Your last comment about expendable ship/crews is indicative of the times, and smacks of Choice or Pro-life stances by the population, which is heading in the pro-life direction. Either LIFE . . . like claimed in the Constitution of the United States . . . is PRECIOUS, or it is NOT, which is the message of our Navy Department today. Would YOU serve a country/service that has already written you off?! No honor there, and a LOT of lack of respect for the individual sailor. Was it Omar Bradley hated the term . . . GI (government issue)?

          • PolicyWonk

            “The LCS’s high speed is there so they can run away at the first sign of trouble” ONLY works when we are NOT AT WAR.
            =======================================
            Well….yeah! I was being sarcastic – when missiles are flying, LCS could be doing 70 knots and it’ll still become an artificial reef. “Speed is life” definitely works better for an aircraft that it does a ship (this isn’t WW2 anymore), and any efforts to connect that logic to the warships, I’m sure we can agree, are simply nuts.

            I don’t know that the nation is in any kind of pro-life direction: as a policy the feds claim they are pro-life, but then don’t want to pay for food, shelter, clothing, or educating children who were subsequently born under unfortunate circumstances; The GOP just killed CHIPs – is this how they define being pro-life?; the GOP is now killing the pre-existing condition requirement for health insurance policies under the ACA – is this somehow pro-life?; they don’t want to spend the money to purchase warships built to military as opposed to civilian standards; they are reluctant to fully pay up and come clean for our servicemen and women who risked their lives for this nation, but were seriously injured by agent orange, or the burn pits in Iraq, and in the line of duty; what about the thousands of lives lost in Puerto Rico because of the failure to restore power or supply sufficient aid and supplies for our citizens who got hammered by a 100-year storm?

            That’s just off the top of my head.

            The policies of this government, and their subsequent actions, do not indicate anything remotely akin to being pro-life. The above indicates they could care less.

          • Curtis Conway

            Touche . . . can’t argue with that. However, I will ‘keep the faith’ and my cup is still half full. Not going to line up with the radical loco Left, who gets worse by the day. Goodness, in California they think people should be allowed to just excrement in the streets, and its OK. It’s not ok. THAT is Not ‘Liberty and Justice for all’, nor does it represent the ‘Land of the Free, and Home of the Brave’. Now ‘Brave, Clean & Revenant’ is a bad thing ? (BOY Scouts), and the Chickification of America is almost complete?! Time to return to our roots. Keep the Faith!

      • TDog

        The notion that the world goes to pot because we forget or choose not to involve ourselves is the height conceit and an inaccurate conclusion to reach as well. Note that while the Middle East was hardly peaceful when we had a hands off attitude, the scale of the refugee crises, mass rape, war, and starvation were nowhere near what they are today. When the US military goes in, things typically go from bad to worse.

        And by typically, I mean darn near batting a thousand. And the bedrock of our ineptitude is our unwillingness and/or inability to recognize that money spent does not equal victory gained. We refuse to define what goals we hope to accomplish in anything other than the vaguest of terms and in doing so we ensure that mission creep becomes Job One.

        As such, there will never be tools sufficient to the task because the task is ill-defined, open-ended, and lacking in the brains necessary to wield them to their greatest effect.

        The South China Sea is first and foremost a geopolitical problem, not a military one. China has over 1.4 billion people who rely upon it in large part for their very survival while we insist upon nosing our way in because of a treaty we have refused to ratify. How’s that for irony?

        We aren’t going to muscle our way through this one because at the end of the day China lives there while we are just tourists. They have no choice but to keep on fighting until they get what they want while for us to change their minds we would have to change their government.

        And we see how good a job we did in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen…

        • Curtis Conway

          The mass exodus of the Islamic masses from the Middle East began predominantly ‘after’ the Russians were permitted to involve themselves. US Foreign Policy up until that point was to keep the Russians out, and we had, in a much more successful way the decades just before this happened. Took a while to get them out too, then the last administration just let them walk right in and support Assad, against our policy. Makes you wonder whose side the last administration was on, for ‘that event’ is the fuse that burned down and launched so many things, and Islam has been served. HHUMMM?!

          As for Proactive Presence, BOTH parties bear the blame for the force reductions after the demise of the Berlin Wall, and PEACE was declared around the planet, and we reduced our force levels by around 50%. The Cop was OFF the beat, and EVIL rose again. We will have to reestablish with the expenditure of our most precious blood, for HiStory has shown us that once Freedom & Liberty is lost, it can only be regained through the investment of that flowing capital.

          There may be atrocities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Just pull our influence out and see what happens. The Saudis do not line people up and shoot them, in the back of the head, cut the head off, burn them in a cage, or play soccer with the head. IF ANYONE deserves the title ANIMAL, it is those who do such things.

          • TDog

            Given that the refugee crisis started after we decided to arm the various rebels and terrorists and that it reached its height in 2015, your assertion that the refugee crisis reached its height after Russia became involved is inaccurate. Russia did not involve itself until 2015 and in fact it was Russia’s involvement that marked the beginning of the return of hundreds of thousands of internally and externally displaced refugees to Syria rather than away from it. [SOURCE: UN]

            And by the way, if Obama was on Putin’s side, I’m curious to see where calling and warning the Russians TWICE places Trump.

            “Just pull our influence out and see what happens.”

            Here’s a more pertinent scenario to posit: see if I care.

          • Curtis Conway

            There is NO ONE FACTOR that created this crisis, but many aspects that led to the current failure to resolve issues in the Middle East. As long as no one respects anyone else’s point of view, and only seeks to remove the opposition, then this will persist. The larger issue is the demise of Western Civilization to . . . what? Since the Islamic infusion into Europe, Europe is more peaceful and better off? Don’t think so. Many aspects of these people and their religion is ‘they do not respect anyone different, and can’t get along with anybody’, and I know it is possible because I have walked the streets of East Jerusalem. Many a Palestinian lives in peace with their Israeli neighbors, and they all work, pay taxes, go to school, worship, and contribute to society in peace.

            The NO GO ZONE in Paris is FAR FROM THAT!

          • TDog

            No one factor created this crisis, but I can tell you one that made it about seven years’ worth worse.

            The fact is our involvement led to the war lasting over eight years. After Russia got involved, it’s a matter of historical fact and battlefield record that the terrorists and insurgents began to not only lose territory, but also began to try to negotiate with Assad, two things that did not occur when the US was giving the rebels weapons.

  • Don Bacon

    Apparently the panel did’t discuss the US illegal attempts to challenge China’s territorial sovereignty.

    • Curtis Conway

      Your suggestion that China can just build artificial islands, and claim sovereignty down the middle of the South China Sea contrary to UNCLOS, of which China is a Signatory, which also stipulates the adjudicating authority (The Hague International Court) that China refused to listen too, or even darken their door during the hearings, or adhere to the judgement . . . is just beyond the pale!

      • .Hugo.

        the islands are built inside chinese eez, which is allowed by unclos.
        .
        as a signatory, china enjoys eez rights, while the u.s. has no right to challenge it as the u.s. has refused to sign on unclos.
        .
        there was no such thing as the hague int’l court either, when only the philippines has hired an arbitration service provider at the hague, and china has rejected any form of arbitration by unclos rights from day 1.
        .
        when talking about “refused to listen to a real international court”, the u.s. has ignored the judgement from the formal u.n. court the icj in 1986 on the case of the u.s. mining the nicaraguan harbours.

        • Curtis Conway

          “as a signatory, China enjoys eez rights, while the u.s. has no right to challenge it as the u.s. has refused to sign on unclos.”

          It is real hard to make an argument of sovereignty in waters 600 – 800 miles from your coast when claiming an ARTIFICAL construct is what you are basing your claim upon. Also, the sovereignty of islands that do exist is under dispute. You want to go to war and solve the dispute with force? You are already preparing for that.

          The name of the International Legal venue is irrevelent. The fact that China will not recognize it, is the issue.

          • Curtis Conway

            In addition, we in the United States have an ethic that compels us (US) to not stand by while smaller, less capable countries are bullied by larger, more powerful neighbors , , , that is what is going on here, A blind man can see it, but the perpetrator can’t.

          • .Hugo.

            don’t see how when the chinese scs territory is much closer than most of the british overseas territories like the falklands and diego garcia.
            .
            and again you have the order wrong, the construction is conducted inside the chinese already delimited eez, and the structures are not being used to claim additional area.
            .
            when china announced its maritime border in 1947, there was no protest from any country at all. and everyone suddenly popped out when oil and gas were discovered at least 20 years later, and you call that “dispute”.
            .
            chinese territory is being invaded, what makes you think china has no right to take it by by military means? and of course china has to prepare for it when the u.s. continues to challenge chinese sovereignty, and the surrounding rogue states have never reduce their aggression on chinese maritime resources in the region.
            .
            the name of the international legal venue is very much relevant, especially when your so-called “hague international court” is not even a formal u.n. court of a u.n. agency. the fact is china has exercised its very unclos rights to reject it, and its basis is all written in unclos. and you should know both the roc and prc governments have never recognized the pca result, it’s not even unclos compliant in the first place.

  • PolicyWonk

    This development is precisely why I’d recommended sending one of our ESB’s to the S. China Sea, along with a contingent of Vipers, a few Sea-Hawks, and Mark VI patrol boats, to conduct “maritime safety drills” (paint ’em all with USCG colors, if necessary), and anchoring it near one of the disputed “islands”.

    The Sea-Hawks would be useful for “rescue missions”, the Mark VI’s for general patrolling, and the Vipers in case there’s trouble.

    Naturally, we didn’t do it. The Chinese takeover of the S. China Sea might’ve been a foregone conclusion anyway, but the least we could’ve done was complicate matters. rolling over and playing dead isn’t much of a policy.

    • .Hugo.

      sorry, uscg is not authorized to operate in waters and territory of a foreign country without permission from that country.
      .
      don’t try to think u.s. laws apply to the whole world.
      .

  • Scott Ferguson

    “…were reported….”

    “…reportedly…”

    So much for your credibility.

  • Keithon de Bique

    America is one to talk. THEY are the ones with empire and bullying. Cast eyes on the mideast. The pivot to the pacific – sending military forces – when you already surround China with bases is antagonistic path to war.
    Bothered I am by China grabbing the sea – but operation and trade not perceived military solution is the way forward.
    An enemy they not but a future one they can be.

    • .Hugo.

      it will certainly be one if the u.s. continues to harass it in every front and by every mean.
      .
      the only question is can the u.s. really afford to have china as an enemy?
      .

      • Keithon de Bique

        War is very possible look no further than Libya what happens dropping the dollar. Russia the bear is also being pushed.

  • .Hugo.

    so you can only flag my reply to hide it when you cannot refute? how come i was not surprised, especially i can repost and spam yours too. 😀
    .
    sure embarrassing, when the u.s. has never signed on unclos at all.
    .
    and even more embarrassing when you have to twist my words. have you ever read unclos about “innocent passage”? you should not have missed it when it has its own sections and articles.
    .
    article 19

    Passage of a foreign ship shall be considered to be prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal State if in the territorial sea it engages in any of the following activities:

    (a) any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of the coastal State, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

    (b) any exercise or practice with weapons of any kind;

    (c) any act aimed at collecting information to the prejudice of the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (d) any act of propaganda aimed at affecting the defence or security of the coastal State;

    (e) the launching, landing or taking on board of any aircraft;

    (f) the launching, landing or taking on board of any military device;

    (g) the loading or unloading of any commodity, currency or person contrary to the customs, fiscal, immigration or sanitary laws and regulations of the coastal State;

    (h) any act of wilful and serious pollution contrary to this Convention;

    (i) any fishing activities;

    (j) the carrying out of research or survey activities;

    (k) any act aimed at interfering with any systems of communication or any other facilities or installations of the coastal State;

    (l) any other activity not having a direct bearing on passage.

    .
    article 45

    The regime of innocent passage, in accordance with Part II, section 3, shall apply in straits used for international navigation:

    (a) excluded from the application of the regime of transit passage under article 38, paragraph 1; or

    (b) between a part of the high seas or an exclusive economic zone and the territorial sea of a foreign State.

    .
    so is the south china sea a strait in the first place? that could be another discussion topic so let’s skip that for the time being and look at other relevant article in the same part iii:
    .
    article 39

    Ships and aircraft, while exercising the right of transit passage, shall:

    (a) proceed without delay through or over the strait;

    (b) refrain from any threat or use of force against the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence of States bordering the strait, or in any other manner in violation of the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations;

    (c) refrain from any activities other than those incident to their normal modes of continuous and expeditious transit unless rendered necessary by force majeure or by distress;

    (d) comply with other relevant provisions of this Part.

    .
    so by learning the sole purpose of fonops, i.e. to challenge other country’s maritime sovereignty, the u.s. has indeed violated unclos very much.
    .
    and since when i have not admitted that territorial seas is 12nm from the shore? but i have also indicated that, and you have ignored, china has ratified unclos to enforce its laws in the territorial waters and exclusive economic zone too. and you know how wide eez is, don’t you. 🙂
    .
    it’s only amusing for you to say an intentional grounding of a landing craft and let it rust was the same as a ship sunk by accident. 😀
    .
    unclos cannot be applied when ownership of historical title is involved. so no, unclos cannot and has not judged chinese ownership of the south china sea islands.
    .
    and to expose you lie, the uss mustin has sailed within 12nm of the chinese mischief island in march 2018, uninvited.
    .
    and you don’t have to look far, just check the uss cowpens’ log to tell how the chinese navy has forced it to turn back.
    .
    and the chinese navy is performing its duties in the scs too as i am writing this. simply more u.s. ships will get chased off. 🙂
    .

    • .Hugo.

      and again tried to put words into my mouth? since when i said the chinese border ends at hainan? 😀
      .
      china owns the 4 major island chains in the scs, and its southernmost border ends in the james shoal of the nansha islands. its territorial seas and its eez are delimited from the shore of the islands it owns, and its much farther than hainan.
      .
      only you have finally discovered the true meaning of innocent passage, not me. and you have also learned how the u.s. has violated it as defined in unclos. that’s why the u.s. will never sign on it.
      .
      what unclos rule are you talking about? unclos is a convention not a court. are you referring to the philippine pca fiasco instead? well then you should also know that the pca was just an arbitration service provider, and only the philippines has hired it to buy a piece of so-called “reward”, when china has exercised its unclos right to reject any form of arbitration related to its sovereignty in the scs territory. again, you have not read unclos before you post. why not try article 284.3 and the country declaration section again?
      .
      and mischief reef is not just a reef anymore, so i will keep calling it mischief island. 🙂
      .
      all i can see is that all the usn can do is to sneak in and sneak out of chinese territorial seas and eez, while the chinese navy is always there to chase it out. yeah, so much of fonops, haha….
      .
      and again you can’t deny the fact that china has created new seabird habitats on the islands to enhance the eco system.
      .
      remember now, it goes all the way to the james shoal, and its 12nm + 180nm = 200nm 🙂
      .

  • Scott Ferguson

    Such childishness….Tsk, tsk, tsk.

    Poor job trolling.

    Keep up the pathetic work!

  • Scott Ferguson

    Grow up.